Book Review | Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah…Already!
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Hanukkah begins this Friday, December 11 (25 Kislev) at sundown. In our home, we will light the first Hanukkah candle and then light our Shabbat candles before we sit down for our festive Hanukkah dinner featuring potato latkes (with applesauce) as the star attraction.We generally give gifts during the Hanukkah holiday. Of course, as our children have grown, their gift lists have changed, but one thing has remained constant. We have always included books on the gift list and spread them throughout the nights of Hanukkah to accompany whatever they were receiving.

From award winning picture books to read before bedtime to the latest,  hottest YA novel to a non-fiction title about a subject one of them had suddenly developed a passion for, books were the icing on the cake of our gift giving. The interesting thing about those books…while there was a bit of complaining, I have noticed that many of them are still sitting on their bookshelves even as they head off to college.

So whether you want to make one of the eight Hanukkah nights a book night or spread them over all eight nights of the holiday, I encourage you to build your childrens’ libraries with excellent literature. They will thank you for it…someday.

Let me recommend two titles that will last throughout the year,  are great for family reading time  and make wonderful family gifts.

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JPS Illustrated Children’s Bible

JPSchildrensbibleRetold by Ellen Frankel. Illustrated by Avi Katz.  © 2009 Jewish Publication Society

Ellen Frankel and JPS have decided to put their efforts to the task of providing the younger members of the Jewish community with a Children’s Bible they can truly call their own. The stories are well told and very true to the original texts. The selection of stories is excellent and hits all major Biblical highlights.  Avi Katz’s illustrations are breathtaking and bring each story to life with vibrant colors, vivid detailing and exceptional expression.With great thought, careful editing, deliberate selection, and fabulous artwork, The JPS Illustrated Children’s Bible will certainly become a classic.

A Year of Jewish Stories: 52 Tales for Young Children and Their Families

AyearofjewishstoriesBy Grace Maisel and Samantha Shubert. Illustrated by Tammy L. Keiser.      © 2004  URJ Press.

In this  collection of stories from all over the Jewish world and throughout Jewish history, the authors provide an excellent overview of the wit, wisdom and most of all values that have enabled the Jewish people to survive over these centuries. With enough stories to enjoy one for every Shabbat evening, this is sure to be an oft-requested volume on the family bookshelf.

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I hope you will enjoy both of these titles in your own homes and share them with  others during your holiday season. And while you are at it, why not donate a book to Toys for Tots, your local homeless shelter or a children’s hospital. I know it would be greatly appreciated.

Happy Reading!

Kathy B.

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